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Painting the Baby's Nursery: Get the Toxic VOCs Out

Mythic Paint Cans

I remember being eight months pregnant with my second and realizing that I absolutely must paint the baby’s room now. I know, it makes no sense, the baby will never notice and I’d have been much better off taking a nap, but I had to have that lasso border in the room or…

I dunno. Seven years later I still can’t finish the sentence because, it doesn’t make sense to me now or then but I know I needed the stinkin room painted. A few short months ago that freshly painted room sent out the last of it’s toxins. Seriously.

I can not believe I worked so hard to protect my children, but laid them down to sleep in a freshly polluted room. What most of us didn’t know until recently was that we’re inhaling our paint for years to come. We know to get the lead out, we know that you should use a low VOC paint formula but there’s a lot you don’t know. Paints traditionally have been made into two parts, one part (microscopic) plastic balls and the other is a solvent that makes those plastic balls malleable so they stick to the walls. The solvents are chock full of VOCs and they become a part of your indoor air quality for a good six years.

VOC quite literally means Volatile Organic Compounds. Volatile, as in explode. I’m not using scare tactics here, I’m simply defining the word. Here’s where it gets all persnickety though. Even though you may have a low VOC paint, like Benjamin Moore, the moment they mix in the tint you’ve moved out of the low VOC threshold.

I could go on and on or I could offer you a solution. There’s a new breed of paint in town. Mythic paint. It’s completely free of Volatile Organic Compounds and they’re putting their money where their mouth is. Mythic Paint is the only Zero Emissions Paint Facility in the county. Seriously, I’m swooning. You make my house pretty and you’re a good neighbor. Does it get better?

Milk Paint has been around for ages but it doesn’t give you that finished look that we enjoy in our living rooms. It also won’t be quite as durable as parents of crayola wielding children need. It’s wonderful for crafts and for a certain type of home, alas not mine.

Here’s the good news about Mythic Paint. (I hope that they are the first of many more to come) You can use their primer to seal away your old toxic paint and it’s lecherous solvents. With 1,200 colors and eight sheens you’ll find what you’re looking for and if your kids get into it you won’t have to take them to the emergency room.


  1. Jessica,

    While your article has some good points, you are completely off-target about VOC’s. Volatile Organic Compounds are not ingredients that explode or could even ignite, in many cases. These are carbon-based molecules that are readily vaporized at room temperature. Meaning…they evaporate. Not all VOC’s are harmful to humans, though. Peel the skin from an orange and enjoy the wonderful smell…it’s a VOC. Some VOC’s are dangerous to humans, but not all dangerous ingredients in paint are VOC’s.

    Also, do a little research about AFM Safecoat paint from San Diego, CA. They have been making paints and coatings specifically for people with allergies, asthma and chemical sensitivities for almost 30 years. There products are not just trendy, they have a proven track record. No company in the US comes even close to AFM.

  2. My definition of VOC does come from the US Environmental Protection Agency. If you have a more expert source I am more than willing to take a look.

    I’ve peeked at your website and I will admit it piques my interest. (tee hee little pun there for you)

    It’s really good/okay/ideal if more than one person is right.


  3. The definition of a VOC is such: a carbon-based molecule, readily vaporized at room temperature, that could react with nitrogen and UV light to create low-level smog. Although some VOC’s are dangerous to humans, some are not. Quoted from the EPA: “The ability of organic chemicals to cause health effects varies greatly from those that are highly toxic, to those with no known health effect. As with other pollutants, the extent and nature of the health effect will depend on many factors including level of exposure and length of time exposed. Eye and respiratory tract irritation, headaches, dizziness, visual disorders, and memory impairment are among the immediate symptoms that some people have experienced soon after exposure to some organics. At present, not much is known about what health effects occur from the levels of organics usually found in homes. Many organic compounds are known to cause cancer in animals; some are suspected of causing, or are known to cause, cancer in humans.”

    What we know for sure is this…some VOC’s are toxins, some are not. Many ingredients in paint that are toxic to humans are not considered VOC’s. Acetone, ammonia, crystalline silica, formaldehyde precursors, biocides…these are all examples of non-VOC ingredients in typical paints. So, by concentrating on the VOC levels, we’ve lost touch of the real dangers in those products.

  4. Aside from definitions, we all know that the chemical soup in paints containing harmful VOC’s is bad bad bad for us- they take very long to outgas and are super dangerous for babies to breathe. In australia they have begun to announce that SIDS is thought to be caused by all the fresh paints, bedding and other new materials containing too many chemicals for a newborn baby’s body to handle.
    I am all for making milk paint or using no VOC – I have chemical sensitivities and found that the AFM Safecoat worked pretty well too. Or maybe don’t paint at all- there must be other creative ways to decorate!!!

  5. I’ve been using The Freshaire Choice, and I have loved it. They’re rather new, and Mythic isn’t available in my area, so I thought I’d give them a go. Using TFC was the first time I have painted and not gotten a headache in my life. I love this paint.

  6. Maria:

    Where do you live? I can let you know of the closest
    Mythic Paint distributor.
    Mythic Paint is really unique. Besides the NO-VOC’s and NON-CARCINOGENS is our PERFORMANCE and the ability to match any color.

  7. I live in Tulsa, OK. Honestly though, unless it is relatively near-by, I will probably keep using the Freshaire Choice. I don’t want to drive 100 miles (gas, environmental impact, etc) when I get get a great product 5 miles away. The big picture is important. :)

  8. where can I purchase mythic paint in a store in San Diego?

  9. My True Value store in Ramona and Lemon Grove just brought in Mythic Paint about two months ago. Have had some really good feedback. Email me at jimmy@ransombrothers.com if you would like any additional information.

  10. Sally,

    The closest dealer of Mythic Pint is in Sherman Oaks but if you need a lot of paint they might deliver it:
    Kitty’s Paints and Greener Building Supply
    14440 Magnolia Blvd
    Sherman Oaks, Ca 91423

  11. Thanks for all the information in regards to the various paint brands. I have two sons that have asthma and one was born with a blood disorder. I have painted in the past only to regret not knowing if the paint contributed to the various emergency room and hospital stays of my son.

    I live outsied of Dallas and the only paint source mentioned that I could find was the First Choice. I haven’t purchased it yet. I want to definitely know if it does not contain the ethylene glycol. My walls are beige and I do want something different, but not at the risk of my children. Do you know if the First Choice contains ethylene glycol.

  12. Low VOC paints are really good and healthy to the environment and also to the beings living in..Nice share on Paints

  13. I usually do not care for zero VOC paints, as I believe they are not as durable as traditional paints, but I have to agree that nursery is the place were it is a good idea to use more eco friendly paints. When I need paint for the nursery I usually use Volo zero VOC paint from Home Depot.


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